The current season at choir is celebrating the first five years and is a "best of" selection of the most popular songs from every season to date, voted for by the members. That's fifteen songs in total, which is great, but is also fully five more than we would usually cover in a single season.
That's a lot to get through when you only really have a couple of hours a week together to work with. Of course, because it's a "best of" season, many people in the choir have done some or all of these songs before, so it's probably not that big a deal. I only joined last season, so of those fifteen songs, I only really know one. The rest have been a bit of a ride, with less time spent on each song and some barely being covered at all. Not to mention what you miss when you can't attend a session.
I won't lie: it's been a bit of a struggle.
It's a bit like exams. When the whole season stretched out in front of me, there didn't seem to be any great urgency, and I didn't spend a whole lot of time listening to the MP3s of my part and trying to get the words down off by heart. Then, suddenly, before I really knew what was happening, I was back from Glastonbury (whoops, there's one session gone) and realising that I only had a couple of weeks before our end of season concert and that I didn't know many of the songs half as well as perhaps I should.
You're allowed your books at most of the concerts, but in my experience, it's much better to be able to put them aside and to focus your full attention on the musical director, because he works so hard to cue us in and make sure we're singing at the right speed and volumes and things like that. If you're not watching him, you may be sure of all the words and most of the notes (if you can read music), but you miss so much else.
With the final concerts looming, I put in some focused effort over the last week and have really tried to listen to these damn songs as much as I can. I might have guessed that a Phantom of the Opera medley might be wordy, but who knew that "Lean on Me" had so many damn words? Or that there are so many subtleties of volume in singing "World in Union"? And don't get me started on the ridiculous changes of pace in "The World That We Created". I'm struggling with the absurdly pompous lyrics as it is.
Still, at least we can all agree that the "Frozen Heart" / "Let it Go" medley is going to bring the house down, right? My colleagues are going to make a night of it and come to watch me perform next week, and they've asked if it's okay to sing along. Help yourselves.....
I've downloaded a few albums since getting back from Glastonbury: the new Everything Everything and Django Django; I've bought some Frank Turner and I need to be paying more attention to the Sufjan Stevens and Blur and Muse albums too. I also need to get my teeth into the compilation CD that Ali and Lilly were kind enough to send me months ago.... but no, for the next few weeks, until I get through all the performances, I'll be mostly listening to those damn MP3s of the bass part of these damn songs.
Still, looking on the brightside, the songs we're covering in the winter season have been announced: as well as including "White Winter Hymnal", we'll also be singing "A Wombling Christmas". How could anyone resist that?